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Wentz having 'fun' being back in Fargo before Eagles training camp

FARGO--An excited elementary-age boy was holding a photograph that former North Dakota State quarterback Carson Wentz signed moments earlier. "This is awesome," the boy said in an excited tone, wearing a yellow No. 11 Bison jersey. More than 400 ...

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Former North Dakota State quarterback Carson Wentz signs autographs for fans Wednesday, July 13, 2016, at the Avalon West Events Center.David Samson / The Forum

FARGO-An excited elementary-age boy was holding a photograph that former North Dakota State quarterback Carson Wentz signed moments earlier.

"This is awesome," the boy said in an excited tone, wearing a yellow No. 11 Bison jersey.

More than 400 fans gathered Wednesday, July 13, at the Avalon Events Center for a chance to meet Wentz during a Scheels-sponsored event. Wentz had a similar event Tuesday, July 12, in Bismarck. Wentz, who was the No. 2 overall pick in the NFL Draft in April, is scheduled to start his first training camp with the Philadelphia Eagles in less than two weeks.

"It's so cool seeing the fans come in and seeing all these little kids get all nervous, get all big-eyed and everything," said Wentz, a Bismarck Century High School graduate. "It's been pretty special. ... Being back here is fun, being back in North Dakota, seeing my buddies seeing my family and everything."

Hundreds of fans lined up for a chance to meet Wentz, take photos and have items autographed. The 6-foot-5, 237-pound Wentz is competing with veteran quarterbacks Sam Bradford and Chase Daniel on the Eagles depth chart. Bradford is projected by most to be the Week 1 starter.

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"I'm going to be ready to go, I know I will be whenever my number is called," said Wentz, who was a two-year starter at NDSU. "Everybody wants to be the starter. Everyone wants to compete and go in there and be the guy, but you've got to learn with it."

Wentz's celebrity has grown since the Eagles selected him in the first round on April 28 in Chicago. In May, he signed a four-year contract worth a reported $26.67 million, including a $17.6 million signing bonus.

"I feel like I'm the same kid that grew up in Bismarck, North Dakota," Wentz said. "Seeing all these people that want to come meet me and all this stuff, it's kind of weird. It's cool and it's a great thing, but I still feel the same kid that grew up in Bismarck."

Wentz has participated in multiple minicamps and organized team activities (OTAs) offseason workouts since he was drafted. Wentz first shared the field with Bradford in May during OTAs. Bradford had demanded a traded after the Eagles traded for the No. 2 pick in the draft that they used to select Wentz.

Wentz said there hasn't been tension between Bradford this offseason.

"It wasn't that big a deal," Wentz said. "We were so consumed with playing ball and getting in the playbook and everything. We were so busy with everything. For me, it just felt like football again."

To this point, the offseason minicamps and workouts haven't produced any surprises from his perspective, Wentz said.

"It didn't feel like anything overwhelming," he said. "I got in there just like I would have at NDSU. You've got meetings, you've got practice, you've got some media things, you've got all sorts of things."

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Bison head coach Chris Klieman and NDSU athletic director Matt Larsen were among those at Wednesday's event at the Avalon Events Center. Wentz was the starting quarterback for the Bison the past two NCAA Division I FCS championship games. The Bison are the five-time defending FCS national champions.

"It's so special, special for Carson, have all the fans come out and probably see him one more time," Klieman said. "This is what it's all about. Carson giving back to the community and the community coming out to support him."

Klieman said Philadelphia was a good landing spot for his former starting quarterback.

"It's a great fit for him with the Eagles," Klieman said. "I think he's in a great situation and let's just let him play it out and see what happens."

Peterson covers college athletics for The Forum, including Concordia College and Minnesota State Moorhead. He also covers the Fargo-Moorhead RedHawks independent baseball team and helps out with North Dakota State football coverage. Peterson has been working at the newspaper since 1996.
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